Sunday, June 22, 2014

Photo Friday: Tire trash

Thanks to Great Lakes Echo for sharing my photo and story!
From Great Lakes Echo website
Photo Friday: Tire trash 

Burning trash in Davis Park Bridgeport Township, MI June 13th, 2014

I posted this video on YouTube on June 13th of the trash pile they burn in Davis Park here in Bridgeport Township. I can remember them burning this trash going back probably at least two decades and another person I talked to about it said they have been doing it for as long as they can remember since the dump was closed and they turned this area into a park.  I went back the next day and that pile was still burning.

"Bridgeport Township has had a huge trash and brush pile in a wooded area of Davis Park that they have been burning for years.  You can find every kind of piece of trash in this pile that you can imagine. They also pile brush and logs etc...  into the pile.  Normally when they burn this trash pile, they burn it all the way down and there have been years when you go there and the ground is smoldering for days.  This time they did not burn it all the way down, just burned it half way down and then covered one side of the pile with more trash and dirt.  That new trash will get burnt the next time they burn this pile.  Some of the trash in this pile appears to be illegal to burn.
Here is a link from Michigan DEQ concerning Michigan Laws about the trash you can and cannot burn, also the health dangers posed by the burning -,4561,7-135-3310_4148_55793-234558--,00.html
So I suspect that this burn pile leaves behind some contaminant's on the ground there, then come the flooding season, this burn spot is under water, it sits just 10 to 20 yards from the Cass River.  Do the contaminant's then wash downstream in the Cass River with the floodwater's?   If so, then they end up eventually in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. 
There was some lumber and big logs that were still smoldering and one piece actually started burning again.  There was no one down to monitor this burning, not while my dog and I were there.
Here are Bridgeport's "Rules for Burning" from their own website -
There are some photos in this blog post of the trash pile taken 3 days ago before they burned it -"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting June 11th, 2014

Items on today's Downtown Development Authority agenda were:
On the agenda -
1 - Heather Wilson spoke concerning another request for a donation for the Bridge Fest Fireworks which starts at  1:48 in the video.
Under New Business -
1 - Donation Requests.  There are new rules for anyone making a donation request from the DDA, this starts at 20:20 in the video.
Under Old Business -
1 - Canoe Launch which starts at 22:00 in the video.
2 - Snow Removal which starts at 23:35 in the video.
3 - DDA/Beautification - Flowers which starts at 24:00 in the video.
4 - "The Rock" @ I-75 which starts at 28:26 in the video
5 - GLDC (Great Lakes Discovery Center) which starts at 29:37 in the video.
6 - 4422 Williamson (former B & S Heating Building) which starts at 32:50 in the video.
7 - MDOT I-75 project which starts at 36:48 in the video.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10th Update On Bridgeport's Lyle And Davis Parks

My dog and I took another walk through Bridgeport's two parks this morning.  It was nice weather for a walk, the mosquito's weren't too bad as long as you stayed out of the tall weeds and woods.  Sadly though the tires and trash were still there.
My first comment is directed to the residents that use Lyle and Davis Parks:  You bring your fishing gear, your snacks, your beer cans with you when you go to the parks, WHY do you not take them with you when you leave?  Just because Bridgeport Township itself is allowing these two parks to turn into trash piles does that mean that it is OK for you to add to the trash problem?  I used to carry plastic shopping bags with me when I would go for walks through the parks and pick up the trash left behind by my fellow residents but I quit after there was too much drug paraphernalia being left in Lyle Park.  One good side note here, in the ironic sense, is that since Bridgeport Township has closed off Lyle Park for most public use, there is less trash being left behind by the park users.

So while my dog and I were walking along the non-motorized walking trail through Lyle Park I stopped on the trail to take a few photos of the tires still lying down in the low area between the trail and railroad tracks.  I suspect all 7 tires are still there, these are just 3 of them that you can see right from the trail.  Last week they all had water in them and I suspect after the rain tonight they will have water in them again, once again serving as a mosquito breeding ground.

I was thinking that maybe some group like a Boy Scout group would be interested in getting a volunteer effort together to clean up all the trash and tires down in Lyle Park, but that probably is not a good idea.  There is too much trash, too many sharp rusty objects down in that low area.  And too many mosquitoes and  nasty plants like Poison Ivy etc..  So I guess the trash and tires will remain there, maybe some of it will get washed away downstream in the next flood.

As we walked along a little farther down the trail in Lyle Park we came upon the abandoned boat ramp and dock.  It is a sad sight to many former users.  Since I was there last week, part of a tree has fallen down and landed on the dock that just sits there on the bank now.
It felt like such a sad ending for the poor dock.  But the poor dock was often neglected by Bridgeport during it's life there.  It would sit onshore for half the summer, then late in the season they would finally put it in the water.  But then they would leave it in the water for the winter and it would end up floating downstream and then end up frozen into the river for the winter.  Maybe Bridgeport would let someone come and haul it away and give it a good home where it could be used.  Or it will probably just continue to sit there until it finally falls apart and either the pieces float downstream or they will haul it over to Davis Park and add it to the big trash/burn pile there.

There was a dead tree that had fallen down next to the trail there in Lyle Park and I was wondering if they would ever clean that up.  I was so happy when I saw that they did.  Here is where it was fallen down and you can see they cleaned it up.

But then I saw what they did with the dead tree................................................
They got some big equipment down there and pushed the tree into the river...Not all the way into the river, the trunk is sitting on the very edge of the bank and parts of the tree are in the river.

Here is a good view of that tree from the other side of the river in Davis Park.

In time that tree will end up out in the river.  The next flood will definitely dump that tree out into the river.  Friggin' Brilliant move on the part of Bridgeport Township!!
They are planning on putting in two canoe launches on the river, one right there in Davis Park.  So it makes sense that they would dump the dead tree into the river too.  That should make for some good canoeing down the Cass River through Bridgeport.  There are already trees there in the river so I guess one more won't hurt!  I would think that they would be working on clearing the other trees out of the river, not dumping more in.
Here are a few of the others..

Here are a few more down by the Fort Street Bridge.  One tree is stuck out on one of the sandbars and the big sandbar has trees down on the one end of it also.

Years ago when I was down along the Cass between the Fort Street Bridge and where the river heads towards Riverview etc... there was a huge log jam that blocked the entire river, from one side to the other.  I don't know if that log jam has been cleared out or not since I haven't been down there in years.  I heard that someone had started on clearing it out.  I have also heard that there were other log jams along the river that would interfere with running canoes down this river.   And I have heard that there are other areas between the two proposed canoe launch sites where the river is so shallow you can walk across it and there are sandbars there also.
So, you have a river that already in spots has only 1 to 2 inches of water in it, and logs and trees scattered all through it....  That doesn't sound like a good recipe for a successful canoe launch.
If I was planning on putting in two canoe launches, I would first clear the logs and trees out of the river, I would close off the man made canal along Fayette St./Fort Rd. that has caused the water flow to change in the river and has caused the silting and sandbars, I would dredge the river out so it is deep enough to run canoes down, I would clean up the trash in the two parks along the river and where one of the canoe launches is supposed to be placed.  Those are just my thoughts on how to launch a successful canoe run.

Here are a few more photos down by the Fort Street Bridge.   One is of the other end of the biggest sandbar and also one taken from the sandbar looking at the low water levels under the bridge.  More sandbars will be appearing soon as the water levels continue to drop.
My dog wasn't too happy with me at this point.  She loves to swim in the river but when the water levels get too low like they are right now, if you let them swim and don't bathe them afterwards they will break out in sores on their body.  And if you let them drink too much of this nasty water they will vomit and get the diarrhea.  So no swimming for my dog today.

Here are some more photos from the backside of the biggest sandbar and then where my dog and I walked along the ill fated man made canal that was dug from the Cass River to the once beautiful pond in Davis Park.  At the end of the canal at the river and behind the sandbar, that water is getting nasty.  There are still a few pools of the stagnant water in the canal but most of it has dried up now.  Hopefully the canal will continue to dry up, but that depends on how much rain we get the rest of this summer.  The pools of water are now showing the sheen/oily substance that tends to float on the top of the water there every year.  It doesn't show up that well in these photos but it is there.  Someone told me that is just from plant material decomposition, whatever it is, it looks nasty and usually smells nasty.

The large pool of water at the end of the canal in Davis Park, where the culvert runs under the road from the wetlands into Davis Park, is going down.  It is now dry on the canal end and there is only a little water coming through the culvert.  And the pond in Davis Park is almost totally dried up now for the season, due to the silting in of the pond which was caused by the change in the flow of the water caused by the canal they dug.
Who would have thought back in 1975 when Bridgeport Township put in their long ago failed canoe launch in the pond and dug that canal to the river, that it would cause so much damage here.
If you look closely at this next photo you will see these small guppie size fish all congregated around the area where the small trickle of water is coming through the culvert pipe into the large pool in Davis Park.  That is the only place where there is enough oxygenated water for them. 

One of my dog's favorite parts of our walks through the parks is the wooded area on the Davis Park Island.    I was glad to see that they did finally mow that tall grass on the rest of the island.  Now it looks like a half a@@'d mowed hay field, but at least it is mowed.  They also mowed a path through the woods so my dog and I braved the mosquito's back there.  We found that the trash piles are still there back in the woods.  They have actually added more brush to the big trash pile. Maybe they are getting ready to burn it again.  At times in the past you would go back there after they had burned the big pile of brush and trash and the ground would be smoldering for days.  I was hoping they would haul the trash off to a proper landfill but it doesn't appear they are planning on it.  Maybe they are planning on turning Davis Park back into a dump/landfill like it was years ago.  Davis Dump, it has a certain ring to it.


Bridgeport Township is planning at some time in the future to extend their non-motorized walking trail.  The trail now starts at the historic bridge and goes through the trash and tire filled Lyle Park, then over the Fort St. Bridge.  They will be extending it along Fayette St. and then into the long neglected, dried up and trash filled Davis Park.  I imagine that will draw visitors from all across the state........
They have also applied for I believe two grants to build their proposed two canoe launch sites in a unusable and filthy Cass River, with one of those proposed launch sites being placed in the neglected, trash filled Davis Park.
WHY would anyone give them grant money to do that?
All they need to do is take a look at the past mismanagement and neglect of Bridgeport Township in their parks.  The past is the past and it is now different people running the show here, but the neglect and mismanagement seem to be the same.  They restored the bridge which is a good thing, but that came with much controversy, and Davis Park seems to me to be more neglected than it has been in years.  Lyle Park is no longer of any use to anyone other than the few who walk or ride on the trail. If they can get equipment down into Lyle Park to push a dead tree into the river, you would think they could get some equipment and employees down there to also clean the trash up.  In Davis Park, the mowers go back and mow around the trash piles, there is a nice two track back there, so why don't they get the equipment and employees back there to clean up the trash?
Those two proposed canoe launch sites sit in the two worst flood areas that I am aware of here in Bridgeport.  How many weeks or months have they had to put off the surveying of the sites and putting in the stakes because the flooding was too bad?  The flooding was actually worse last year than it was this year.  So those areas will be under flood water and unusable for months every year, and then during the summer the river will be too shallow to get a canoe down.  If some fool gives them that grant money for the canoe launches and they actually get them put in, they will just neglect them like they have done to the two canoe/boat launches they had in the past.
But Hey, It's Free Grant Money!!  So when this money gets wasted like the past grant monies they have received, who cares, it is not their money, it is just tax payer money.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Local Township Boards and their Rules For Public Comment & Participation

The Rules For Public Comment for communities public boards are at times a source of contention between the community's government and the citizens.  Especially when they are seen as heavy handed and when they are enforced to stifle public input from the residents of the communities.  Some rules may even be in violation of the The Michigan Open Meeting Act
I will be reviewing the rules from multiple townships and cities in the Mid-Michigan area.

BRIDGEPORT TOWNSHIP Board's infamous "3 minute" rule for speaking during the public comment period has become well known throughout the country.  You are only allowed 3 minutes to speak at the beginning of the meeting, before any agenda items have been discussed.
In the beginning of May, Bridgeport Township Board also updated their rules for any citizen that requests time to be put on the "Agenda" portion of the meetings.  Their new rules state:
"Person or Delegations wishing to be placed on the Agenda
1.  A individual or delegation desiring to appear before the Board may request placement on the agenda by making such request in writing to the Township Manager and/or presiding member of the Township Board no less than seven (7) business days before the meeting at which the individual would like to speak. The request shall include, at a minimum, the following information:

a. Name of the person or the delegation affiliation, whichever is applicable.
b. A detailed summary of the topic to be presented or discussed.

2.  The individual making the request will be notified by the Township Manager and/or presiding member of the Township Board as to whether the request has been granted and, if the request is granted, will be provided three (3) minutes to speak, when the individual’s requested topic is addressed on the agenda, unless extended by the presiding officer.

3.  The Township Manager and/or presiding member of the Township Board shall take appropriate steps to determine that requests that an item be placed on the agenda are not frivolous, repetitive, or harassing in nature.

4.  Delegations must select only one individual to speak on their behalf.

5.  Individuals speaking to the Board shall address remarks only to the presiding member of the Township Board.

6.  The presiding member of the Township Board shall have the authority to terminate the presentation of any individual who does not adhere to the above rules or is abusive toward an individual Board member or the Board as a whole.

7.  The presiding member of the Township Board, members of the Board, and the Township Manager may ask questions of any individual addressing the Board

In the rules posted above I have highlighted in red the portions I have a problem with. 
#1  You will only be granted 3 minutes to speak if you are granted the privilege of being placed on the agenda.  I would think the whole point of requesting to be allowed to speak during the agenda portion of the meeting is so you have longer than the 3 minutes that is granted during the regular public comment period to address your issue.  So it would appear that there is no longer any point in requesting to be put on the agenda portion of the meeting in Bridgeport.  
#2  They will decide if your request is "frivolous, repetitive, or harassing in nature". Their interpretation of those requirements could lead to just about anyone being denied the privilege of being put on the agenda. 
#3  "The speaker shall address remarks only to the presiding member of the Township Board".  We elect 7 members to our board and we have no King.  If I ever get up to speak, I will be addressing all our elected members, not just one.
#4  It should only be by the approval of the entire board that any citizen speaking at a public meeting can be removed, not by just one member.  If I got up and said "We elected you and are paying you to do your job and we don't feel you are" .... well that could be interpreted by the presiding member to be abusive and away I will be drug by the police.

Now I will highlight a few points from some of the surrounding townships.

SAGINAW TOWNSHIP Board's rules state that "Citizens may address the Township Board on any subject during the "Comments from the Public" portion of the agenda and on agenda items before they are acted upon by the Board"  also, "For most agenda items being considered, individuals will be limited to 4 minutes each and a total of 20 minutes will be the maximum time allowed for any particular agenda item in the public discussion segment. Major issues may be allotted additional time when considered necessary by the majority of members of the Board present".  
The only problem I have with Saginaw Township's rules is the 20 minute maximum time limit allowed -- they may be in violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act with that time limit.  The Open Meeting Act states that  "But a rule limiting the period of public comment may not be applied in a manner that denies a person the right to address the public body, such as by limiting all public comment to a half-hour period".

TITTABAWASSEE TOWNSHIP Board rules also allow for a opening public comment period and for a extended public comment period.  In the opening public comment period you are only allowed 3 minutes and the presiding officer or a board member may request a vote on the question of termination of the comments of any individual for exceeding the three minute limitation, if they disrupt the decorum of the meeting, or if they if the speaker tends to get personal or vindictive.  At least it is also done by a majority vote, not just by one member.  They have the extended public comment period so as to allow for citizens to expand on their remarks if they need more time or for those arriving after the opening public comment period.

THOMAS TOWNSHIP Board rules states that they have a public comment period and it is towards the beginning of each meeting and the citizens are limited to 3 minutes.  But they do also state that once you have addressed the board with a matter you can rest assured that someone will get back to you in a week or so to discuss the matter with you in more detail.

KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP  Board appears to just have one public comment period towards the beginning of their regular meetings, not sure of the time limit on that.  When looking at the minutes from their meetings it does appear they have a very active public comment participation period.

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP Board also has two public comment periods, one at the beginning and one towards the end.  It also says that they can speak on agenda items before they are acted on by the Board.  The rules state that individuals will be limited to 5 minutes each and 20 minutes time will be the time allowed for any particular agenda item in the public discussion segment.  Richland Township may also be in violation of the Michigan Open Meeting Act with the 20 minute maximum time limit rule. 

FRANKENMUTH  Their rules are a little different than most other townships. They require you to sign up on a Public Comments Registry form prior to the meeting.  They request you sign your name or state who your representing if not yourself and also if you are a City Of Frankenmuth resident.  Not sure why they want to know if you are a resident or not, that won't disqualify any citizen from speaking if they are not a resident.  I'm not sure at what point in the meeting the public comment period is but you are limited to 3 minutes.

BIRCH RUN TOWNSHIP Board also has a form on their website to request to address the township board.  Not sure if that is a requirement or not to be allowed to speak.  I couldn't find any rules for the time limit for speaking during the public comment period but from looking at their board meeting minutes it does appear they have two public comment periods, at the beginning and the end.

CHESANING TOWNSHIP  Board has a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting and a extended public comment period at the end of the meeting.  Also if a public hearing is scheduled during the board meeting they will have a public comment period then too.  They state that even though they have a 2 minute time limit on the public comments, they usually allow a longer comment/discussion as long as it doesn't interfere with the regular board business.

CITY OF SAGINAW  The city also has a form to request to speak at the board meetings and they have a deadline it must be filled out and turned in by to be able to speak.  Each speaker will be limited to 3 minutes  unless the Council shall by majority vote extend that time.  Speakers shall address their remarks to the Council as a whole, not to individual Council members.  

There are some good procedures in the above listed rules from the other townships that I would like to see enacted at the Bridgeport Township Board Meetings.  Having two public comment periods instead of just one at the beginning, and when there are important agenda items being voted on there should also be a public comment period allowed then before the board votes on the items.  There should also be at least a majority vote required before any citizen is removed from the public meetings.  The entire board should also be allowed to vote on whether a speaker will be granted more time to speak than the allotted 3 minutes. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2nd Update On Bridgeport's Lyle And Davis Parks

I haven't been able to get to the parks in several weeks but my dog and I made it there this morning.  I thought with Bridge Fest starting in a few days that Bridgeport Township would have made a effort to clean up the old mosquito breeding tires and the trash in the parks.  Alas, nothing has been done to clean these parks up.
The water is gone from the low wet area alongside the walking trail through Lyle park for now until the next flooding or heavy rains, but the 7 tires remain. I was able to get to only 4 of the 7 tires due to the high weeds and heavy mosquito's, but the 4 tires I was able to photograph are sitting there with water in them breeding mosquito's.  If Bridgeport Township Government is not going to do anything to clean the trash up and get those tires out of there, then maybe there is some kind of state agency that needs to be notified.  If West Nile Virus, Encephalitis and Malaria aren't bad enough, there is a new mosquito borne disease that is expected to spread to the United States this year.  It is called Chikungunya --  Mosquito-borne virus could become public health nuisance for Florida
It is predicted that it will hit Florida this year, I am not sure if it will spread throughout the rest of the country or not this year, but it has been showing up in northern climates as well as the tropics.
After we left Lyle Park we went over the Fort Street bridge and I took my dog out on the big sandbar that has formed at the end of the canal that was dug back in the 1970's along Fayette St./Fort Rd. out to the Cass River.   You can walk out onto the sandbar from Fayette St. right by the base of the Fort St. bridge. The sandbar continues to grow in size but has not succeeded yet in totally closing off the canal from the river. There is only a little area of semi free flowing water at that end of the canal there and down in the big pool where the water flows from the wetlands on the other side of Fayette St. through the culvert.  The rest of the canal along Fayette St. is just isolated pools of stagnant water, perfect mosquito breeding grounds.  As the weather continues to get warmer the isolated pools will continue to dry up... UNTIL we get more rain or flooding, then they will fill back up, slowly go back down to the stagnant pools breeding mosquito's... It is a never ending vicious cycle.
Saginaw County Mosquito Abatement Commission just released a statement regarding the high mosquito population this year -- "As a result of a wet spring and significant rainfall in May, Saginaw County is experiencing high nuisance mosquito populations. To promote community-wide mosquito control our agency has temporarily discontinued all spraying of individual properties. Additionally, spray shifts are working extended hours and weekends to expediently reduce mosquito densities throughout the County."
Bridgeport Township could fix that problem of the mosquito breeding grounds that the canal has become if they would repair that damage that they caused by filling in that useless canal.  Maybe there is some free grant money out there for a project like this.  That would be a better use of the free grant money/taxpayer funds to repair the damage and close off that canal then to put in two more canoe launches that will probably end up failures like their previous attempts.
Once into Davis Park things weren't any better there.  The once beautiful pond is drying up like it does every year after the flooding is over.  I found ironic the "No Swimming" sign and the "Boat Launch" sign from the previous failed canoe launch fiasco that has caused all the damage to the river and pond.
The grass in Davis Park is once again only mowed in the front part of the park.  On the island part of the park the grass is only mowed near the picnic tables and the playground equipment, then there is one path mowed around the perimeter of the island.  The grass in the middle is way over ten inches!!  Where are you Ron Wheatley?  Maybe he is too busy out slapping fines on the private property owners in the township to notice that the township itself is in violation of their own codes..  Hopefully Bridgeport will find the time to at least mow the rest of the grass on the island before Bridge Fest. Then there is the rest of the island and wooded area in Davis Park that is waist and chest high weeds, including weeds that Bridgeport lists in their "Code Of Ordinances" as banned in this township.  Private property owners will get huge fines for the mess that is found in the township parks, maybe the township parks are exempt from their own codes.
My dog and I braved the mosquito's and high weeds to go back into the wooded area and I saw that the trash pile's were still there, the railroad ties with the rusty spikes sticking up were still there, the huge tractor tire was still there.
Nothing seems to change in Bridgeport and obviously nothing ever will. They can spend $10,000 dollars on all the flower pots they want, the flower pots don't hide the garbage in the parks.  Hopefully Bridge Fest will draw visitors to our little township, but my recommendation to the visitors is to stay out of the parks.